Swedish cheap-and-chic fashion giant H&M on Thursday apologised over a swimwear campaign featuring a deeply tanned model that sparked outrage among cancer groups.
"We are sorry if we have upset anyone with our latest swimwear campaign. It was not our intention to show off a specific ideal or to encourage dangerous behaviour, but was instead to show off our latest summer collection," the company said in an email sent to AFP.
"We have taken note of the views and will continue to discuss this internally ahead of future campaigns," it added.
H&M's apology came after the Swedish Cancer Society and other critics blasted advertisements featuring Brazilian model Isabeli Fontana wearing brightly-coloured swimwear accentuated by a dark-brown tan.
"The clothing giant is creating, not least among young people, a beauty ideal that is deadly," the cancer society wrote in an opinion piece in Sweden's paper of reference Dagens Nyheter Thursday.
"Every year, more people die in Sweden of (skin cancer) than in traffic accidents, and the main cause is too much sunning," the group said.
"Regardless of how the H&M model got her tan, through sunning or a computer programme, the effect is the same: H&M tells us we should be very tan on the beach," it said.
"It is sad to write this, but H&M will through its latest advertising campaign not only sell more bathing suits but also contribute to more people dying from skin cancer."
H&M has previously come under fire for using very thin models in its advertising campaigns.